The Musquodoboit Recreation Centre and Library reopened on Saturday after undergoing eight months of renovations and welcomed community members with live music, cake and activities for children.
The space now has floor to ceiling windows that allows for more natural light in the lobby and other rooms. A new community kitchen is just down the hall from the front door. Fitness classes like yoga or pilates now take place in the Piping Plover Room, but can also house other activities or events.
For Lesley Mage, it’s an improvement because it’s more of a “community hub.”
“You can see this is much more welcoming and much more functional for the community now,” said Mage on Saturday. She has been using the library for more than six years.
Mage’s daughter, Violet, said her favourite part of the new space is the Piping Plover Room where fitness classes take place.
Others said they liked the natural lighting and how the space seems to be more open.
Amanda Fullerton, manager of Eastern Shore and Musquodoboit Library Service, said the original building was a furniture store and was never intended to be a library or recreation centre.
When working on the library’s new design, Fullerton sought insight from the community.
“Some of these things are little things, like somebody wanted the soap (dispensers) in the bathroom to be low enough for kids and that they had step-stools,” said Fullerton. “And now we have step-stools in there.”
One of the bigger issues, said Fullerton, was making sure that, with these updates, there would be enough room for activities.
Fullerton said the community also wanted to use the outdoor space in the back of the library, so they’ve added a few picnic tables. She said there’s an opportunity for a community garden in that space.
Linda Disbrowe moved to Musquodoboit in September and said she loves the new natural lighting. It makes her want to take out more books and spend more time in the library because the space is more relaxing and comfortable.
“The staff was always friendly so that atmosphere was nice, but the physical atmosphere was very crowded before,” Disbrowe said.
Linda Disbrowe signed out a few books to take home on Saturday and said she tries to read one book every week.
Jane Abbott, the architect for the new space, said the design was about bringing the recreation community and the library community together.
“The kitchen and the furniture were all picked to help the community live in the space. So it’s less about feeling like an institution building and feeling more like a home,” Abbott said.
The building cost $821,700 and is now open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
In celebration of the Musquodoboit Library’s reopening, Halifax Public Libraries are waving overdue fees and replacing lost library cards for free from Saturday, Jan. 27, to Sunday, Feb. 11.